By David L. Sefton, M.S., CPA
Bird clubs are one of the most important sources of knowledge related to breeding endangered species. They offer education and great social interaction with individuals of similar interests. The bird clubs act as the gatekeepers to knowledge concerning avian pets and breeders. Books usually run five to 10 years behind knowledge available at most bird club meetings. That is a sobering thought.
Before joining a bird club, consider your interests.
Are you interested in avian conservation?
Are you interested in the social aspect of a club?
Are you joining the club to learn more about breeding?
Are you joining a club to share your knowledge?
Are you joining the club for other reasons?
Choosing Your Club
When choosing a bird club, consider if there are at least several people with similar interests. You do not want to be the only breeder in a club of pet owners, nor the only pet owner in a club of breeders. Unfortunately, many times pet bird owners and bird breeders tend to conflict and that can affect the entire direction of a club. Where a pet owner might want to hear speakers on bird behavior, a bird breeder might wish to hear other bird breeders discuss lesser-known species.
Clubs should be more than minutes and meetings. Clubs need to have a good newsletter and good speakers. The speakers should cover a number of areas, even if it isn't the direct focus of the club. Many related areas can offer useful information to bird club members.
What To Avoid
The most important aspect of a bird club is whether it is a positive experience. A few bird clubs are sources of continuous strife and negativity. I don't recommend anyone joining a bird club that has a history of fights, splits-offs and negative attitudes. Who needs more stress in life, right? A social organization needs to be fun otherwise, what is the purpose?
I avoid bird clubs that are in financial trouble or that are dominated by a single personality. I have seen some bird clubs become private feudal kingdoms of a single local breeder. Bird clubs, hopefully, aren't the ego projections of the proverbial small fish in an even smaller pond. Ideally, your bird club is a positive social interaction, not an ongoing soap opera. Look for positive people with positive attitudes.
Creating A Successful Club
The key to a successful bird club is making it as encompassing as possible, to bring in as many people as possible. That means a club's center of interest should reflect the most popular shared interest. Build the club around that focus. Bird clubs catering to bird breeders exclusively are difficult to maintain, because there are competing economic interests — and competing businesses tend to quarrel. To the extent possible, this competition should be subdued in the club context because it can lead to conflict and strife.
Once you join the club, throw yourself in heart and soul. Don't sit back in your chair, letting a club drift along. The club can only be as good as your participation. One person setting an example, with a positive attitude, can make the club for everyone.
Find a bird club that has like-minded participants, share information and learn what others can teach you, teach others what you can, focus on the positive aspects of bird breeding and don't get drawn into the petty ego conflicts and soap opera that associates itself with a few small organizations.
Choose your club carefully. If you have several choices spend a great deal of time trying out the different clubs. Hopefully, you can always stay focused on the big picture, raising and enjoying our parrotfriends.